Although he would probably never admit it, the role vacated by Phil Davies when he left the services of the Welsh Rugby Union to buy into the Worcester dream made him one of the most important men in Wales.
As National Academies manager the genial 47-year-old was responsible for maintaining and improving the flow of talent from the playing fields of Llandovery and Pembrokeshire to the Millennium Stadium and Warren Gatland’s first team.
It was, he recalls, ‘a fabulous job’, and one which brought him into contact with stars of the future such as George North, the 18-year-old who marked his international debut by scoring two tries against the world champion Springboks, and many others whose trajectory is not as steep as North’s but will stretch just as high.
Indeed with the current team flopping from one defeat to the next, the Principality has not won any of its previous seven games and just two of the last 13, had Davies stayed in the post he might have been asked to pull another couple of rabbits out of the hat in time for next year’s Rugby World Cup.
But Richard Hill beat Gatland to the telephone. Having played and coached against each other for nearly three decades, the Englishmen and the Welshman struck an accord while they were completing their coaching qualifications at Loughborough University in 2006.
So when Hill arrived to pick up the pieces left by last season’s relegation, Davies leapt to the forefront of his mind as the man to put the warrior back in Worcester.
“This was one of the only clubs I would have really considered,” Davies recalls. “My relationship with Richard and understanding what Cecil (Duckworth) has done here for a long, long time – the set-up is fantastic – meant it was an easy decision.
“With some other club I might have thought twice but with Worcester, if we can bring a bit of success to the club and Cecil that would be great.
“I had great pleasure in putting the Powergen Cup in Paul Caddick’s hands at Leeds, he had been good to me, the club and the city. It was a real pleasure, good fun to give them something back.
“And it’s the same thing here. The support that the club get is phenomenal, if we can put a trophy in the chairman’s hands it would be good fun and quite satisfying.
“Hopefully we’ll do that with the Championship trophy in a few months time. We have respect for everybody (in this league) but that’s what we want to do.
“But ideally we want to be positive and succeed at the top level. There is Heineken Cup and Premiership rugby to play. This is where we are at the moment, it’s one step at a time but long term to get success here would be very satisfying for all of us.”
Having watched Worcester’s pack struggle for oxygen against Rotherham and Doncaster earlier in the season, such flights of fancy seem rather far-fetched. The British & Irish Cup maybe, the Heineken Cup, certainly not. Yet.
But Rome wasn’t built..., and having taken Leeds from the nether regions of the English game right to Europe’s blue riband event, Davies has proved it can be done. The Headingley Carnegie outfit were in National Three when Davies arrived in 1996.
Within nine years they were hosting and beating Perpignan and were ranked ninth in the race for the eight Heineken Cup quarter-final places.
What Duckworth wouldn’t give for that now. Instead, for the time being, the indulgent chairman will have to settle for something rather more workaday.
Under Hill Warriors are sauntering along at the top of the Championship, favourites for promotion and a short-odds bet for a league and cup double.
And under Davies the once revered pack is starting to assert itself. “We are where we wanted to be in terms of league position but in terms of performance – not yet. We are 65 per cent of where we need to be before we click,” the former Llanelli forward admitted.
“The players are trying ever so hard, there’s a lot of frustration which is good in one way because they are very conscientious and want to do well
“I think it is only a matter of time before certain passes that are going on the floor stick and certain balls we are trying to recycle at the breakdown are getting kicked or spilled the wrong way, will start to come. Our lineout has been pretty effective, our scrum has been dominant, our restart reception has been good, when we are actually kicking ourselves we are regaining 50 per cent of possession. So our primary possession areas have been effective.
“My biggest thrill as a coach is seeing players tackling correctly, placing the ball effectively, passing well and generally displaying technical skills.
“The winning and the losing happens every week but I want to see the good technical work.
“Hopefully, the supporters see that and hopefully it’s good enough for us to win the Championship and get back where we want to be.”
Which is in the Premiership and even though he’s no longer one of the most important men in Wales, the 46-cap back rower is certainly one of the key components in Worcester’s march back there.